First published in the Sydney Morning Herald on May 21, 1986
PEKING, Tuesday: With a white enamel spittoon by his side, and a Panda-brand cigarette in his hand, the man in the grey mao suit, Deng Xiaoping, 81, gave Bob Hawke a living lesson in political longevity today.
Mr Deng was down and out a few years ago, working in a factory canteen after his career was crushed by the chaos of the cultural revolution. Today, the emperor of the communist dynasty granted an audience (with tea) to the Australian Prime Minister, who, like most Visitors, was in awe of the diminutive Deng.
It was, Mr Hawke said, «one of the most interesting hours of my life». Later, he met another leader whose political fortunes have fluctuated, the Mayor of Peking, Chen Xitong, who cleaned toilets during the cultural revolution.